MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Maya Moore scored 22 points and the Minnesota Lynx pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Tulsa Shock 83-59 and clinch a playoff spot at the earliest point in franchise history.
Lindsay Whalen had 15 points and Seimone Augustus 14 for Minnesota (17-4), which won its fourth straight. The defending champion Lynx didn’t clinch a postseason berth until their 26th game last season.
Whalen also had four assists to pass Katie Smith for the franchise lead with 498.
Glory Johnson led Tulsa (3-17) with 17 points. The Shock have lost four straight overall and remain winless in eight road games this season. Five of Tulsa’s next seven games are away from home.
Minnesota, which has beaten the Shock four times this year by an average of 20 points, shot 50 percent from the field and had a 38-27 edge in rebounding. This was the third meeting in four games between the teams, who also played a home-and-home series before the Olympic break.
The Lynx were nearly flawless in beating Washington 98-69 Friday, but struggled to put away the league’s worst team until the final period.
Up 58-52 entering the fourth quarter, Moore made a 3-pointer and Whalen converted a three-point play to give the Lynx its first double-digit lead since the first quarter and bring the sellout crowd of 10,223 to its feet.
Moore later had another 3-pointer and added two more free throws to make it 75-54 before back-to-back jumpers by Amber Harris capped an 18-0 run for a 79-54 lead with 2 minutes to play.
Besides going 11 of 13 from the free-throw line, Minnesota was 6 for 11 from the field in the final quarter; Tulsa 3 for 19.
It was the second straight game that Tulsa faded down the stretch. The Shock were outscored by 11 in the fourth of Friday’s 89-79 loss to San Antonio.
Whalen scored nine of the first 16 Lynx points, including a fast-break layup to cap a 9-0 run to make it 16-7, but Ivory Latta made a pair of 3-pointers as Tulsa finished the first quarter on a 14-5 run to get within 24-23.
A couple of layups by Amber Holt put the Shock up 32-30 midway through the second quarter, but Rebekkah Brunson scored on a fast-break layup in the final second to give the Lynx a 42-39 halftime lead.
The Lynx wore commemorative uniforms with pink lettering and numbers in honor of the team’s Breast Health Awareness Week.
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